Mike’s Monday Message: Mental Wellness and the Holidays
We’re well into the fourth quarter of the year with the holidays quickly approaching, and that can only mean two things. First, you’re all incredibly busy with giving campaigns related to the holidays, GivingTuesday and the end of the year. And second, your mental wellness may be suffering.
If so, you’re not alone. The American Psychological Association found that in a recent survey, 38% of people said their stress increased during the holiday season, which can lead to physical illness, depression, anxiety, and substance misuse. The most common reasons for the increase in stress were lack of time, financial pressure, gift-giving, and family gatherings. Sound familiar?
In addition, another survey from the National Alliance on Mental Illness noted that 64% of individuals living with a mental illness felt that their conditions worsened around the holidays.
So not only is it the busiest time of the year for most fundraisers—bringing its own stress—but we’re also dealing with all the anxiety of the holidays—trying to feel that “holiday spirt” or the pressure of giving gifts. Plus, there are unique situations and dilemmas that now exist because of the pandemic, such as simply not wanting to go places with large crowds, or still being overwhelmed by grief and loss.
I don’t expect the Association of Fundraising Professionals to become your go-to resource for mental wellness issues. But AFP does have a responsibility to raise awareness of this issue and encourage you, your staff, your colleagues and your organization (and even your family) to address mental wellness fully.
It is an issue that affects so many of us—it is estimated that 1 in 4 people will be affected by mental disorders—and I believe AFP’s role isn’t just to make you the best fundraiser possible but to help you enjoy a full, satisfying, healthy and joyful career in fundraising.
I’m excited to announce that on Dec. 6, we’ll be hosting on Facebook Live the first of two panels on mental wellness in the workplace. The panel, led by AFP Global board member Leah Eustace, ACFRE, will feature four fundraisers dealing with and prioritizing their mental health on a daily basis. You’ll get to watch the prerecorded panel discussion, and panelists will be live on Facebook to answer your questions as the presentation proceeds.
No, our panelists are not mental health professionals, and I encourage you to seek out professional help if your mental health is suffering. But they do have tons of experience and expertise with issues around mental wellness and the workplace—how to talk with your supervisor, how to be a supportive ally, how to create safe spaces in the office. These are critical topics for all of us in the workforce not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.
Look for more details on the panel coming very soon. And if you would like to read more about mental health and fundraising, I encourage you to head to our “AFP Supports!” webpage for additional resources.
U.S. Thanksgiving and a whole host of holidays are coming up, and I hope that you get to spend time with family and friends even as you navigate the busy fundraising time at the end of the year. Please take care of yourself and be cognizant of how you are feeling. I encourage you to learn more about mental wellness so you can help yourself and be a good ally for others in your life.
Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA